The Coronavirus pandemic and the accompanying rise of telecommuting and social distancing have changed the way we communicate with each other. With fewer in-person gatherings and most people working from home, face-to-face conversations are becoming less and less common. Instead of gathering around the water cooler, we might gather together for a “virtual happy hour” on Zoom. Meetings have been replaced by video calls. Emails have taken on more importance as well, as schedules have become more flexible and it is often easier to reach someone through text.
While this increase in utilizing technology to communicate has allowed us all to stay connected in these unusual times, it also presents some unique challenges. After all, it is much more difficult to gauge tone over text, and the meaning of your words can easily be taken another way. Even when video chatting, buffering, pixilation, and time delay can make it difficult to accurately read facial expressions and body language cues. It is important to be mindful of these obstacles and not become complacent in our pursuit of clear communication, which is essential in our businesses. Do you have a plan that prioritizes open and honest discourse? According to CPA Practice Advisor, avoiding the common pitfalls below is a good place to start.
Not Giving Your Correspondence Your Full Attention
Especially around the holidays, when many businesses are busier than ever, it can be tempting to try to “multitask” with communication. For example, if you are on a company Zoom call, you might think of answering emails on your phone or texting a colleague as killing two birds with one stone. However, if your attention is divided, neither party is receiving your full attention. Not only is this disrespectful to those you are communicating with, but you are also more likely to make mistakes when you are not focusing your attention on one task at a time.
Emails and text messages can be a quick and effective way to communicate a point. Unfortunately, they also have some distinct disadvantages when compared to a phone call or face-to-face meeting. Your meaning can be easily misinterpreted through text, as the recipient of your message can’t observe your tone of voice or body language. In addition, if the conversation requires a lot of back-and-forth, it is often quicker to hop on a phone or video call to hash out details right way, rather than dragging it out unnecessarily.
Not Knowing How the Other Person Prefers to Communicate
There are many communication options these days, and each of your clients might have a different preference on how they’d like to reach you. Some might prefer a video meeting, while others favor an email, a phone call, or even a text or WhatsApp message. Remember that ultimately your job is to serve your client, and that often means meeting them in the digital space that is most convenient for them, even if it may be a hassle for you.
Clear and effective communication is the cornerstone of any successful business. Communication with your supervisors, employees, coworkers, and clients should be a top priority. When in doubt, opt for the medium that allows the most direct connection (which is often video chatting) and ask for feedback regarding your communication style and methods on a regular basis.